Five honored by Orland Park for lake rescue
BY Nikki Arseneau Correspondent June 4, 2012 11:38PM
Meghan Carmody, (from left) Andrea Dunn, Mackenzie Smith, Albert Kulicz and Taylor Calzaretta were presented with "Life Saving Awards" during Orland Park village board meeting Monday, June 4, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:03AM
They won’t call themselves heroes, but five people received a standing ovation and a public “thank you” from Orland Park officials for saving a man’s life last week.
The rescuers were honored during Monday’s village board meeting, each receiving a plaque and a round of applause from Mayor Dan McLaughlin, village trustees and members of the audience.
“I’m very honored. I did not expect this,” said Albert Kulicz, 21, of Bridgeview, who was enjoying a day at Centennial Park with his girlfriend on May 29 when he saw a man struggling to stay above water in Lake Sedgewick.
“He was definitely calling for help,” Kulicz said.
So Kulicz jumped in and swam toward the victim, something he said he hoped anyone would do if they found themselves in a similar situation.
MacKenzie Smith, 16, a student at Sandburg High School, was with some friends at the park and noticed the man in trouble. She also dove into the lake and swam toward him. Her friends — Andrea Dunn, Taylor Calzaretta and Meghan Carmody — called 911.
“I’m amazed that it’s gotten this much attention. I’m just happy he is OK,” Smith said, referring to the victim, a 33-year-old Tinley Park man, who was unconscious when brought to shore but was quickly revived.
The rescue took place about an hour after Smith, of Orland Park, and her friends took their last final exam of their junior year, Sandburg Principal Debbie Boniface said. Boniface, who attended Monday’s ceremony, expressed pride in the students.
“It’s moments like these that we always have to take time and celebrate. (The students) are good natured, focused, wonderful kids ... who really put their own welfare on the back burner to help someone out,” she said.